Roscheria melanochaetes

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Roscheria (ross-kehr-EE-ah) melanochaetes
Botanic Garden of Mont-Fleuri, Victoria Island, Seychelles. Photo by Philippe.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Roscheria (ross-kehr-EE-ah)
Species: melanochaetes
Verschaffeltia melanochaetes
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: pinnate
Height: 25 ft./8 m.
Trunk diameter: 3 in./8 cm.
Survivability index
Common names
Latanier Hauban, Latanier Palm

Habitat and Distribution

Roscheria melanochaetes naturally occur on the Mahé and Silhouette Islands of the
Seychelles, where they grow in mountainous rainforest. Erect, small to medium-sized palm with a single trunk, 5-8 m tall. Its fruits are probably dispersed by frugivores. The species is rather common in the under story of several habitat types (Carlström 1996). It is dominant in moist shaded forests at intermediate and higher altitude between 500 to 900 m on Mahé (Dogley and Matatiken 2006).


Roscheria melanochaetes is a slow growing palm, the trunk reaches 8 m in height at 8 cm in diameter, usually straight, featuring distinctive rings near the crown. The trunks exhibit rings of black spines at each stem node, but this feature is most pronounced in young plants; as the plants age they grow fewer and fewer trunk spines, or none at all. Spines are also present on the crownshaft and petioles and these persist into maturity. The crownshaft is 3 m tall, light green in color, covered in brown scales, especially nearing the top. The crownshaft bulges in its center and holds 12-16 pinnate leaves, 1-2 m long on 15-20 cm petioles. The leaves are distinct in that the individual leaflets exhibit enormous variation; some have a single rib while others have several, some are broad, some are narrow, some have pointed apices while others are obliquely truncated. The leaves are light to bright green on top and dull green to brown underneath; but for the bifid apices, juvenile leaves are undivided and pink to red in color. Unlike most crownshafted species, the inflorescence in R. melanochaetes emerges from the leaf axil rather than beneath the shaft. The much branched panicle is 1-2 m with unisexual flowers of both sexes. Fruit matures to a 1 cm red drupe with one seed. Editing by edric.


These plants will not tolerate drought or cold. Growing naturally in rain forest understory, they also require shade when young, as well as moist, humus rich soil. These particulars usually make the plant difficult to cultivate, even in tropical areas.

Comments and Curiosities

This is a monotypic genus.

Etymology: Named for Albrecht Roscher, 19th-century German explorer, and the epithet for its single species R. melanochaetes derives from Latin and Greek meaning 'black' and 'bristle', alluding to the spines covering the trunks.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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